Buchart Gardens has a long history closely associated with the production of Portland Cement. It was a time of great change in Victoria, and indeed, all the world. Robert Pim Buchart would be at the forefront of the building boom, learning of limestone deposits on Vancouver Island. He would open a quarry near the Todd Inlet, shipping his Portland cement out by ship, the burlap sack rather than the barrel, his own innovation and one that gave him an edge over his competitors. Eventually, the limestone would run out on this site, but the Bucharts were now well established, having built a home and a life here for themselves and their family. It was Robert’s wife Jenny who would transform the quarry into something beyond belief.
Jenny’s vision to transform the unsightly rock quarry into one of the most famous gardens in the world was astounding. More astounding was that she was the one on the side of the rock face in a bosun chair stuffing plants into the cracks in the rock face. She was not ever idle, it seems. Jenny had already established gardens around her stately residence, and the tradition of serving tea to visitors, one and all, as word of her astounding gardens spread. Jenny didn’t mind the company, and the price of admission was to sit down and have a cuppa!
It was not till after World War II that things really took off. Jenny’s grandson, Ian Ross had returned from the war, having been gifted the gardens on his 21st birthday prior to the war. Upon his return, it was a mess; overgrown and needing a lot of work. Ian decided to offer it to the city of Victoria for $1. They turned him down. Taking after his grandmother, Ian rolled up his sleeves and got to work, transforming the gardens into the paradise it is today.
Buchart Gardens is truly a jewel, and is a National Historic Site of Canada for good reason. After strolling through the extensive and ever-changing gardens, one can partake of a delightful afternoon tea in the old family home, which houses a fine dining restaurant overlooking the gardens. The gardens are open 365 days a year, offering delights of every kind for every season.